Video: Q&A with Perry Thurston, candidate for Florida attorney general

Updated | 3:24 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Original post | 1:22 p.m.

No press release. No news conference. No Twitter message.

State Rep. Perry Thurston, the Broward Democrat who is minority party leader in the Florida House, had been saying for months that he was thinking about seeking his party’s nomination for Florida attorney general.


Pictures: Floatopia Miami 2014

Over the weekend, he told people at a Democratic Party convention in Orlando that he was, indeed entering the race. So far there still hasn’t been an official rollout, and the state Division of Elections on Tuesday still showed him as a candidate for Florida Senate in 2016.

I caught up with Thurston on Monday evening after a gathering of the Broward Legislative Delegation.

What are you going to be doing next year?

“I will be a candidate for attorney general in November 2014. I look at the attorney general’s position as the people’s attorney, and I think that we need, Florida can do better. I think we need an attorney  general who’s going to focus on health care needs of Florida citizens, not necessarily some national agenda.

I think we need an attorney general who’s going to look at protecting the independence of our judiciary. I think we need an attorney general who takes the job seriously, shows up for executions when you have victim’s families. There. So I’m looking at giving the people of the state of Florida what they deserve, and we deserve a better attorney general

Your plan had been to run for Florida Senate two years after that. How does this influence that prospective campaign?

I will not be running for the senate once I win this election in 2014. I think that you know I bring a lot to this position. And I think that we see Florida right now we’re at a time where Floridians are looking for change. They’re looking for change in the governor’s mansion. They’re looking for change for individuals who are more concerned about special interests. We need individuals in Tallahassee who are concerned about the people’s interest. We’re going to make that change, and we’re going to see Florida will be the better for it.

Just to clarify, one more question on the senate race. Are you not going to run even if you lose the nomination or the general election, or would you still run for Senate in 2016?

I have not made a decision about that but I fully expect to win in 2014.

We went a long time with no candidates for attorney general and now we have a couple in a very short time frame. Why did that happen and how do you see the primary campaign?

I think that as Democrats we’ll come together and work out our differences and make some decisions there. But I think the focus needs to be directly on the job that the current attorney general is doing. As Democrats, we’ll resolve those issues.

Do you think it’s going to be a tough primary?

I think that George [Sheldon] is certainly a worthy candidate.

Have you come to any conclusions about how much you’re going to have to raise?

Looking at the lead that she’s got in terms of fundraising, it’s going to be a lot, but I think that what Amanda Murphy has shown in this election cycle is that if you’ve got the right candidate and you’ve got the right message you can overcome that by having the votes and the people of the state come out to support you.

Why do you think 2014 is going to be the right year for you and other Democrats when history is, except in presidential years, Democrats don’t do too well in Florida?

I think if you look at the national mood right now, things are changing; people are beginning to listen to the message. They’re beginning to hold people accountable for their actions that they’ve taken, and I think that their actions over the last couple of years coming from the attorney general’s office has certainly made people pay attention. If nothing more, the last incident regarding the execution where there was a fundraiser was more important than the victims who were there, prepared for this, who had got their minds set up that this was going to be their time for justice. And not to mention those 1.2 million people in the state of Florida who were denied Medicaid expansion. The people when we fought against any type of health care expansion for those who were hard working Floridians. We wouldn’t have right now today, we wouldn’t have the end of the preexisting condition elimination for medical services, we wouldn’t have the ability to put our youngsters who are coming out of college or high school, keep them on our insurance policies for those of us who are fortunate to have it, if our attorney general would have had her way because she fought it all the way to the Supreme court. And not to mention the other decisions that I think was a waste of resources for the state of Florida.

A couple of footnotes:

The execution incident Thurston referred to was Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi getting Gov. Rick Scott to delay the execution of a convicted killer because, the News Service of Florida discovered, the original date conflicted with a Bondi campaign fundraiser.

Bondi was one of the main attorneys general in the challenge to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. The Supreme Court rejected the claims by Bondi and the other attorneys general and found the law is constitutional.

Bondi's campaign manager Pablo Diaz, responding to Thurston's criticisms via email, said: "Attorney General Bondi has a strong record of performance for Floridians fighting human trafficking, pill mills, and protecting our children from the synthetic drug trade.  She has been a consistent defender of Florida's consumers and their constitutional rights, and we are confident that the General's record merits re-election.”